9/11 and now Charlie Hebdo were both terrorist attacks done by Muslim radicals and fundamentalists. Both brought a huge impact to our world. The other major world event was collapse of the Soviet Union. That collapse changed many things in our world; it ended the cold war, caused many countries to become independent and opened the door for one more kick of globalisation.
Another turning point was 9/11; it changed the politics, trade and the relationships in our life time. Now, in my view, Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack is another of these bringing significant change in our politics, societies and international relations.
Demonstrations have already happened against this terror attack, it brought the world's leader together to march for freedom. Charlie Hebdo magazine published after the terrorist attack the Islam prophet cartoon again, which led to demonstrations in the Middle East.
Scholars, sociologists, historians, religious leaders, etc. all have been busy writing and analysing all this. This terrorist event is very complex and has many layers and the impact of it and where we all go from here will be very complicated and crucial. We can write books on this event. We can trace back the historical elements of this attack, we can write and talk about terrorism and its future, we can talk about it for hours and it will not be enough.
There will inevitably be the throwing of blame to each other. With all of the impacts that this event is bringing I wish to have a short discussion on a few of the impacts of this event in our time and into the future.
Freedom of speech
In my view the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo was both evil and cowardly. Nothing can justify this or the killing of people. The arrows from this head straight to the issue of freedom.
Freedom of speech is being able to express our thoughts in speech, written and drawing forms. It has shocked Europe and the rest of the world that this event happened at all. Freedom of speech is under attack, freedom of speech is something that Europeans have enjoyed and consider precious and gained by the sacrifices of hundreds of years â in reality, it is at risk.
This also provides us the opportunity to think about freedom and redefine it. It is important to ask the question, can I have the freedom to insult others. Since I have freedom, does that mean that I can insult and make fun of other people's beliefs? This behoves us to consider the cartoons of Muhammad printed by Charlie Hebdo.
Was it an insult to the faith of over one billion of people in the world. We can have freedom of speech, but, is everything associated with that, "a good?" As a follower of Jesus I condemn the terrorist attacks and at the same time, condemn any type of insult to the faiths of other people. I don't offend and insult others on what they believe. The question is, should freedom of speech allow provoking others and making fun of others. Another question is who determines where the fine line is?
As individuals living in societies of diverse beliefs are we obligated to follow rules and laws in this matter? We are not individual islands that can survive and remain on our own. We are part of a bigger picture where we need each other and need to live with each other. Part of this is surely respecting each other. Although some might argue that as an individual they have the right to do anything they wish.
To answer all this, let's consider some examples. In an aircraft I fasten my seat belt because if I don't, it won't take off or I'll get ejected from the plane. That's the extent of my freedom of choice. For the well being of ourselves, others and our society we have to follow some rules. Another example, part of this freedom is that we cannot practice racism. So although someone might be a racist and as an individual should be able to express such thoughts and feelings toward other people, but in most countries trouble will find them.
In my view, making fun of Muhammad and making his cartoons was a racist act. At least from the perspectives of Muslims, they are the minority in Europe. They were greatly offended when their prophet was insulted in this way. They saw it as a religious, political and racist act toward them. Therefore it is time to redefine racism and listen to other perspectives. Just as the freedom of speech for someone is a core values, for some others, respecting of their faith is likewise a core value.
Europe after Charlie Hebdo attacks
The 9/11 incident caused a military response against Al Qa'ida â a war in the Middle East. The Charlie Hebdo attack will effect Europe too, especially racial and social issues in Europe. Already there are so many issues for migrations of Muslims into Europe. Economic migration is one thing, the issue is bringing their failed economic (political-religious) with them.
We are already witnessing demonstrations in Germany against the migrations of Muslims into Germany. It gave the ideal opportunity for anyone against Islam and Muslims the perfect excuse to exercise "reverse radicalism". Charlie Hebdo incident is going to make the existing gap even wider between Muslims and non Muslims. Europe's existing Islamophobia will get stronger.
We are all suffering from Islamic terrorism. Yet Muslims are the main victims of this terrorism â yet most people are unaware of this. Muslims are also victims of terrorisms in different ways. First of all they are the "main victims" in their own countries. Countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Iraq have been suffering from terrorism for many years. Hundred thousands of Muslims in these countries have been killed by terrorists and radical Muslims.
Many Muslims from these countries are trying to run away from their suffering of terrorists - to countries that they a life of peace. Most head for Europe, escaping from war, terrorism and fundamentalism and where they can study and work freely. When in Europe they face discrimination because of they are Muslim and coming from a Muslim country (tagged with the one brush, as it were).
They are in effect victims twice. In their own county, and again when they leave their country. It is sad but inevitable, that around the world, people cannot distinguish between a moderate Muslim and a terrorist. In the attack on Charlie Hebdo, one of the guards that were killed was a Muslim. That is a powerful picture for distinguishing a Muslim and a terrorist. Islamophobia means that Muslims might face harsher judgements in Europe.
So where do Christians from Muslim backgrounds fit?
I am one of these, a Christian from a Muslim country and a Muslim background. My fellow believers get forgotten in this kind of situations. It is a very difficult task to be such a believer. Muslim background believers carry a huge pain when these kinds of incidents happens.
Most of the Muslim background believers from Islamic countries (where there is no freedom of religion) are seen as a Muslim by their state and government. Although they are followers of Christ in their hearts, yet legally they are Muslims. Muslims background believers who are living in Middle Eastern countries, when this kind of incidents happens, become more at risk.
Muslims in the Middle East perceive that anyone from the west is a Christian. When a publishing such as Charlie Hebdo publishes Muhammad cartoon which offends Muslims, they see them as acts of Christians. They turn to Muslim background believers in their country and persecute them or even kill them. If they are in Europe or other westerner country, since they have Middle Eastern features, they are seen as Muslims. Automatically they will be disseminated and judged as Muslim and therefore a scary person.
On the other hand Muslim background believers have loved ones that are Muslims, such as parents, siblings and relatives. They naturally, like all of us, want to defend them and explain that they are good people, yet their families and relatives do not trust them anymore because they have converted from Islam. Muslim background believers face a situation which there is no place to consider home. They are one of the misunderstood people groups in our world.
What therefore is our task as a follower of Jesus? Are we asked to discriminate, to hate or to love? We can choose one! Either we can glorify Jesus or we can nurture discrimination, bring more gap between Muslims and non Muslims. Although there are many Christians, unfortunately many expresses their hate against Muslims and some support violence against them.
We are called to love everyone, including our enemies. This is an ideal time to show to our Muslims brothers and sisters that we love them and they will see that you are different and let them know why you are different.
Mumin Faizy is a young Christian from the Middle East (Islamic world) and his interest research areas are philosophy and religious studies.
Mumin Faizy's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mumin-faizy.html